Teach your Students to be Bucket Fillers - How to get started!

Have you heard about Bucket Filling?  I first heard about it a few years ago when a colleague shared the book How Full is Your Bucket for Kids.  I fell in love with the book.  It is a great story that illustrates how much words and actions impact others but in a kid-friendly way.  After sharing the book with them, they were eager to share about ways their bucket has been filled AND dipped.    

I loved the idea behind it and wanted to give it a go in my classroom.  The first year I tried it, it was a total fail - a teacher fail.  I teach first, and for those of you that teach that grade, you will realize the trials and tribulations of first-grade writing.   I made bucket notes for them to fill out but the writing part was painful.  Every time they wanted to write a note, it was a full-on event.  I tried putting slips in the writing center so that they could fill them out then and have support, if necessary.  Eventually, the writing portion completely fell off, and it was forgotten. 

Fast forward to the next school year.  I was determined to try this again and thought long and hard about how to make it work.  I wanted students to be independent.  I wanted the process of filling a bucket to be easy and not a complicated process.  Did I mention I wanted it to be easy!?!

Assemble colourful buckets by using a library pocket on the back side as the inside of the bucket.

Display the buckets labelled with students names so students can put bucket notes into their friend's bucket

I recreated my display, and the kids were drawn to it immediately (thank you Astrobrights paper!).  We read the book, and this class got excited talking about bucket dipping and filling.  This time we took that discussion a step further and sorted some classroom scenarios to bring the message home.

Create an anchor chart by sorting bucket filling and bucket dipping statements that are part of the Bucket Filling resource.

My new notes are super simple.  A student writes their name on a bucket note and then puts it in their friend’s pocket.  They can do that by themselves!  Later on, usually at recess or other free time kids check their pockets and talk to friends who put a note in their pocket.   Right now most of the pockets are brimming.  I will be recognizing a few of those students who have pockets that are looking a little empty.  I also have notes with space to write a note to the students that I am putting out now because most students can write a note on their own. 


We spent more time talking about what bucket filling looked like during a series of lessons and activities.  I have included 4 lessons in the package to help guide you in starting bucket filling in your classroom.  

The unit contains 4 lesson plans to walk you through how to set up bucket filling in your classroom.  Fully scripted and ready to use.

I felt my students had a much better understanding of how to be bucket fillers and how it was supposed to be authentic - not you fill my bucket and then I will fill your bucket.  

If you are interested in checking out everything included in this resource click on the image below to check it out: Bucket Filler Activities - Be a Bucket Filler.   

Find this Bucket Filling resource on TPT by clicking on the image.

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Get started with bucket filling

Until next time.


  1. Your bucket filling does sound awesome! I can't wait to see how they do when I'm in for lunch duty next! :) Thanks for linking up this week!

    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

    1. They do need some encouragement. Perhaps you can notice someone who filled your bucket by doing a great job at lunch :)